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PROPHECY OF DANTE.
ONCE more in man's frail world! which I had left
So long that 'twas forgotten ; and I feel
The weight of clay again,-100 soon bereft
Lift me from that deep gulf without repeal,
Of souls in hopeless bale; and from that place
Of lesser torment, whence men may arise Pure from the fire to join the angelic race;
Midst whom my own bright Beatricē bless'd (1)
My spirit with her light; and to the base Of the Eternal Triad ! first, last, best,
Mysterious, three, sole, infinite, great God !
Soul universal ! led the mortal guest, Unblasted by the glory, though he trod
From star to star to reach the almighty throne. Oh Beatricē! whose sweet limbs the sod
So long hath prest, and the cold marble stone,
Thou sole pure seraph of my earliest love,
Love so ineffable, and so alone, That nought on earth could more my bosom move,
And meeting thee in heaven was but to meet
That without which my soul, like the arkless dove, Had wander'd still in search of, nor her feet
Relieved her wing till found; without thy light
My paradise had still been incomplete. (2) Since my tenth sun gave summer to my sight
Thou wert my life, the essence of my thought,
Loved ere I knew the name of love, and bright Still in these dim old eyes, now overwrought
With the world's war, and years, and banishment,
And tears for thee, by other woes untaught; For mine is not a nature to be bent
By tyrannous faction, and the brawling crowd;
And though the long, long conflict hath been spent In vain, and never more, save when the cloud
Which overhangs the Apennine, my mind's eye
Pierces to fancy Florence, once so proud Of me, can I return, though but to die,
Unto my native soil, they have not yet
Quench'd the old exile's spirit, stern and high. But the sun, though not overcast, must set,
And the night cometh; I am old in days,
And deeds, and contemplation, and have met Destruction face to face in all his ways.
The world hath left me, what it found me, pure,
And if I have not gather’d yet its praise, I sought it not by any baser lure ;
Man wrongs, and Time avenges, and my name
May form a monument not all obscure, Though such was not my ambition's end or ajm,
To add to the vain-glorious list of those
Who dabble in the pettiness of fame, And make men's fickle breath the wind that blows
Their sail, and deem it glory to be class'd
With conquerors, and virtue's other foes, In bloody chronicles of ages past.
I would have had my Florence great and free: (3)
Oh Florence ! Florence ! unto me thou wast Like that Jerusalem which the Almighty He
Wept over, “but thou wouldst not;" as the bird
Gathers its young, I would have gather'd thee Beneath a parent pinion, hadst thou heard
My voice; but as the adder, deaf and fierce,
Against the breast that cherish'd thee was stirr'd Thy venom, and my state thou didst amerce,
And doom this body forfeit to the fire.
Alas ! how bitter is his country's curse To him who for that country would expire,
But did not merit to expire by her,
And loves her, loves her even in her ire.
The day may come she would be proud to have
The dust she dooms to scatter, and transfer (4)
But this shall not be granted ; let my dust
gave Me breath, but in her sudden fury thrust
Me forth to breathe elsewhere, so reassume
Forsooth is over, and repeal'd her doom ;
No,-she denied me what was minemy roof,
And shall not have what is not hers--my tomb. Too long her armed wrath hath kept aloof
The breast which would have bled for her, the heart
That beat, the mind that was temptation proof, The man who fought, toil'd, travell’d, and each part
Of a true citizen fulfill'd, and saw
For his reward the Guelf's ascendant art Pass his destruction even into a law.
These things are not made for forgetfulness,
Florence shall be forgotten first ; too raw
Of such endurance too prolong'd to make
My pardon greater, her injustice less, Though late repented ; yet yet for her sake
I feel some fonder yearnings, and for thine,
My own Beatricē, I would hardly take Vengeance upon the land which once was mine,
And still is hallow'd by thy dust's return,
Which would protect the murderess like a shrine, And save ten thousand foes by thy sole urn.
Though, like old Marius from Minturna's marsh
And Carthage ruins, my lone breast may burn At times with evil feelings hot and harsh,
And sometimes the last pangs of a vile foe
Writhe in a dream before me, and o'erarch My brow with hopes of triumph,- let them go!
Such are the last infirmities of those
Who long have suffer'd more than mortal woe, And yet being mortal still, have no repose
But on the pillow of Revenge-Revenge,
Who sleeps to dream of blood, and waking glows With the oft-baffled, slakeless thirst of change,
When we shall mount again, and they that trod
Be trampled on, while Death and Até range O'er humbled heads and sever'd necks Great God!
Take these thoughts from me to thy hands I yield
My many wrongs, and thine almighty rod
As thou hast been in peril, and in pain,
In turbulent cities, and the tented fieldIn toil, and many troubles borne in vain
For Florence.--I appeal from her to Thee !
Thee, whom I late saw in thy loftiest reign, Even in that glorious vision, which to see
And live was never granted until now,
And yet thou hast permitted this to me. Alas! with what a weight upon my brow
The sense of earth and earthly things come back,
Corrosive passions, feelings dull and low, The heart's quick throb upon the mental rack,
Long day, and dreary night; the retrospect
Of half a century bloody and black, And the frail few years I may yet expect
Hvary and hopeless, but less hard to bear,
For I have been too long and deeply wreck'd On the lone rock of desolate Despair
To lift my eyes more to the passing sail
Which shuns that reef so horrible and bare ; Nor raise my voice-for who would heed my wail ?